Where is God in Tragedy?
The search continues for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet that disappeared on the 8th of March. Our hearts go out to the families of the passengers and crew, as they face the grim prospect that the plane crashed into the sea in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.
The Malaysian Prime Minister, and the airline CEO, can give them no comfort that anyone survived as data indicates the plane’s flight path was far from any potential landing points, leaving only the conclusion that the plane went down in the sea.
A mixture of anger, doubt and anguish has been the reaction of the families of the 239 on board flight MH370. It is hard for them to accept finality, particularly as no confirmed debris has been found, and the missing plane has not been located. Further search efforts have been frustrated by bad weather, and despite a number of countries rallying to provide personnel, planes, ships, and research assistance, the likelihood of finding the plane or its wreckage any time soon is diminishing.
Where is God when the news is bleak and tragedy strikes? Philosophers and religious leaders have debated and speculated about this question for centuries. Is he far off in his heaven, unconcerned about us? Has he left the world to its own devices? Are the terrible things that happen part of his judgment on humanity? Maybe there is no God anyway, and the question itself is redundant.
The great biblical writer, King David, addressed the subject, and in a way silenced the debate with the simplicity of his answer. In what must be one of the most beautiful and poignant spiritual songs ever written, David explains that the moment of death, however horrific it may be and no matter in what desolate place it occurs, is not a loss of hope. Rather, he continues, death is a point of contact with the life-giving Spirit of God. Listen to what he says: “Where shall I go from your Spirit?…if I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV UK).
David’s words comfort all of us. They give hope, not only to those caught up in tragic events, but to everyone when faced with our own death or when a loved one dies. The Spirit of God is everywhere: therefore we are not alone. When we die, the next moment of awareness is with God, who comforts us and gives us grace through his resurrected son, Jesus Christ.
Let’s not forget those on board flight MH370 and their families. Let’s remember that, as David wrote, even in death, God’s right hand holds us fast.
Adapted from blog post of James Henderson at Because. Used with permission.